Finding competent Nevada pot shop staff no simple task, officials say


RENO, Nev. — While sales of recreational marijuana in Nevada are going strong, one significant area that remains a work in progress is finding the right employees.

Mikel Alvarez, director of retail operations for Terra Tech — a California-based marijuana cultivator and operator of dispensaries including Blüm in Reno — said one of the main challenges is understanding all the nuances and regulations of the Silver State’s still-young legal cannabis industry.

State law requires workers in marijuana establishments must be at least 21 years of age, cannot be convicted of a felony offense, and must earn a registered agent card. However, Nevada does not require workers to be medically trained to work at a dispensary.

Alvarez said the most important thing he looks for in employees is passion and a willingness to learn the industry.

“Yes, knowledge is appreciated and is a plus; however, if someone comes to us and are ready to learn at a fast pace, we might give them a shot,” Alvarez said. “It has happened once or five times before.

“I can teach someone about cannabis or how to sell a product.”

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Ideally, dispensaries would like to find candidates with experience in the industry, Alvarez said, particularly those with the knowledge of the variety of cannabis products and ways to ingest them.

Extensive knowledge is rare

That’s not always easy. Fernando Leal, CEO of Sierra Well, a cannabis dispensary with locations in Reno and Carson City, said finding experienced employees is difficult.

Often, the best candidates, he said, are individuals who are familiar with someone, such as a family member or friend, who has been impacted by the use of medical or recreational marijuana.

“Finding candidates with extensive knowledge in this market is rare,” Leal said in an email to the NNBW. “That said, we are seeing more transplants coming from states that preceded Nevada in adopting some form of cannabis use.”

Similar to hiring practices at Blüm, Leal said he looks for candidates with enthusiasm who want to build a career in the industry.

“These candidates tend to have a real desire to build a career in the industry versus those that just want to be part of the ‘next big thing,'” Leal said.

For employees who want to work for Blüm, an internal human resources department goes through a vetting process, after which, qualified candidates go through interviews with assistant managers.

If they pass the initial interview the company’s dispensary manager will interview them.

Even in the hiring process, job candidates at Blüm are checked in as a visitor. The administration holds a candidate’s form of ID and presents him or her with a visitor badge. From there, candidates are escorted personally to a patient consultation room for interviews.

Fostering a professional workplace

Once candidates are hired at dispensaries, they often go through an extensive training. At Sierra Well, new employees are introduced to a thorough onboarding process and must continuously meet certification requirements and training.

“We are incredibly fortunate at Sierra Well to have a team that consists of many individuals with extensive experience, and/or college and post graduate degrees,” Leal said.

Blüm issues an employee handbook, and employees — including management — are expected to be professional, respectful and courteous at all times.

“We want to work with employees and not just terminate; however, we do have zero tolerance on several items,” Alvarez said.

Although there are a few cannabis-specific job sites — such as 420careers.com, hempstaff.com and marijuanajobscannabiscareers.com — regional dispensaries are just starting to use them, if at all.

Aside from security considerations, dispensaries have a few things to consider once positions are filled.

An underlying theme is many patrons are visiting a recreational cannabis dispensary for the first time, officials said, and may feel intimidated or be affected by a perceived stigma of going into an establishment.

Leal explained it is important that his employees display compassion to visitors who may be intimidated with the setting and may be novices to marijuana products.

“I view our team as purveyors of information that, although at this time may be anecdotal, can still be valuable to people interested in exploring non-pharmaceutical alternatives,” Leal said.

Nevada pot sales still ahead of projections

Recreational marijuana sales hit $32.8 million in Nevada in January, outpacing the state’s projections, but falling short of the $35.8 million sold in December, according to a March 26 report from the Associated Press.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports the state published the most recent statistics last week, and sales numbers have fluctuated each month since it opened in July, going from up one month to down another month.

Democratic State Sen. Tick Segerblom, who pushed for pot legalization, says the market isn’t growing the way he thought it would.

But while sales have been up and down, each month has been well over the state’s projections.



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Nevada pros share tips on marijuana edibles consumption


Chris Kudialis, Las Vegas Sun / AP Exchange
Published 7:51 a.m. PT March 30, 2018 | Updated 7:53 a.m. PT March 30, 2018

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Colorado state regulators are set to review the laws surrounding marijuana edibles. This decision comes in part due to two death cases involving the use of pot-infused cookies and candies.
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LAS VEGAS — Open a pack of convenience store gummy candies and it’s hard not to grab a handful at a time to satisfy your craving.

But doing the same for a tube of marijuana gummy candies purchased at one of Las Vegas’ legal pot dispensaries could leave users on the floor.

Marijuana edibles have quickly become a hot seller in the first seven months of legalized pot in Nevada, with as much as 45 percent of all weed sales being edibles, according to figures from several dispensary owners.

Weed is changing America: Hear our new podcast, the Pot Cast, on 4-20 (yes, on purpose). From USA TODAY Network

More: Blue Moon’s brewer launching marijuana-infused ‘beer’

More: Online ads from unlicensed pot shops roil California market

The extreme potencies, however, have forced dispensaries and lawmakers to be proactive in educating many first-time Nevada users on how ingest pot properly.

“We’ve been very involved in the outset to prevent overconsumption,” said Riana Durrett, executive director of the Nevada Dispensary Association. “It has happened in other states and we want to prevent it from happening here.”

Marijuana edibles in Nevada are limited to 10 milligrams of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in pot, per dose or more than 100 milligrams of THC per package, according to state law. The edibles — in the form of chocolate bars, peanut butter cups, cookies, gummy candies, nuts and granola — can’t resemble images of cartoon characters, toys, balloons or animals and must be sold in sealed, opaque packaging.

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Since Nevada legalized recreational marijuana, anyone 21 and over can possess up to 1 ounce in-state. How many people actually could look at an ounce and identify it, though? We’re here to help educate you.
Jenny Kane/RGJ

An average dose for regular marijuana users is 10 milligrams of THC, said David Goldwater, owner of Inyo Fine Cannabis Dispensary in the central valley. While frequent pot users can easily handle up to 20 or 30 milligrams, first-time and less-experienced users should begin with 2.5 to 5 milligram doses.

That means when opening a stack of pot gummy rings — commonly sold in packs of 10 small candies at 10 milligrams each — first-time users should only eat one-fourth of one gummy to achieve a desired high. Experienced pot users could consume two to three whole gummy candies, Goldwater said.

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As weed edibles can take the average person from 45 minutes to two hours to start feeling its effects, Goldwater said it should come as no surprise that so many Nevadans have struggled to adapt to appropriate doses. It’s a drastic difference from the typical fistful of candies out of the pot-free gas station bag.

“Low and slow is always our recommendation,” Goldwater said. “Low THC milligram count and eat it slow.”

Chocolate bars, peanut butter cups, brownies and even dried fruit edibles are similar in serving size and potency. A 12-square chocolate bar totaling 100 milligrams of THC would have just over 8 milligrams of THC per square, which is more than enough for most people to get high, Goldwater said.

Goldwater and other dispensary owners said they’re doing everything they can to prevent overdoses and negative experiences from souring customers’ taste for pot edibles.

As part of a monthly free “Wellness Wednesday” seminar, Essence Cannabis Dispensary owner Armen Yemenidjian welcomes adults age 21 and over to listen to doctors, attorneys, state regulators and industry members speak on a variety of pot safety topics. Among them, edible safety is a “top priority,” Yemenidjian said.

Essence employees undergo education training so they can give first-time customers directions on how to consume edibles.

“Put it this way, we want people to enjoy the edibles so they come back for more,” Yemenidjian said. “We don’t want them to hate the experience and be turned off by the whole process.”

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At The+Source, owner Andrew Jolley provides handout literature for customers on proper edible use. The+Source also holds monthly educational seminars, and Jolley’s employees are trained to educate customers on proper quantities.

Goldwater directs Inyo customers to the company’s website, where its “knowledge” section outlines acceptable doses for edible uses.

While sales of marijuana flower and concentrates have endured plateaus or even slight dips at different points through the first months of marijuana legalization in Nevada, edibles have continued to grow at a higher rate, according to dispensary officials.

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Goldwater said edibles are the least expensive way for pot consumers to get high. At $26 for a tube of 10 gummy candies, buyers can get a strong THC high for $2.60 or less. Comparatively speaking, an 18 percent THC-gram of flower sold for $15 would cost the average user about $7 to $8 to get high.

“People start by trying the edibles, then they realize they like them and come back for more,” Goldwater explained. “We’ve been seeing edible sales grow very rapidly.”

With “ample” education materials available and staff from nearly all of the Las Vegas Valley’s nearly 45 dispensaries available to advise on proper edible use, customers bear the ultimate responsibility to keep themselves safe, Durrett said.

“The resources are out there, a lot of it is just being responsible and knowing what you’re consuming,” she said. “And being patient is part of it.”

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Cultivate your ultimate Las Vegas cannabis weekend


Hotels and casinos on The Strip are not where you want to enjoy recreational cannabis smoking. | Photo: Getty

As far as legal cannabis goes, Las Vegas straddles miracle and mirage.

Sin City has blossomed into a vertically integrated capital of cultivation, processing, manufacturing and retailing packaged for the masses amid glitz, glam and government regulations as keenly choreographed as Cirque du Soleil.

Nevada’s recreational pot law allows adults to purchase one ounce of flowers, 3.5 grams of extracts or 3,500 mg of edibles per day. Odds are you won’t come close to consuming that much per day during the average three-day stay.

You can buy cannabis on The Strip from a boutique whose name sounds like a showgirl’s — Essence. But toke up at gaming tables, where cigarettes are legal, or in rooms and suites or poolside at major casino-hotels and face a $600 ticket, a pricey room-cleaning fee or outright ejection

You can’t legally partake anywhere in Nevada except in private residences and private buildings with owners’ permission. For all its permissive excess, Las Vegas lacks one key amenity: cannabis lounges. So plan on being clandestine or creative.


Get your bearings with the GreenState Epic Vegas Map

(Map ProTip: use the ‘zoom’ function in the bottom left corner to zoom in on details)


Where to Stay in Las Vegas

While you can’t rent hotel rooms for smoke seshes, there are several options offered for rent by private parties — some in condo towers affiliated with and adjacent to major hotel-casinos, some in run-of-the-mill apartments, and all close to major attractions.

  • CannabisTours.com has private, 420-friendly Las Vegas rooms starting at $100 per night. A five-bedroom party house will run $510. The Palms Place penthouse is where Wu-Tang Clan’s Ghostface Killah stays when he’s in Las Vegas. The condo features a stainless steel kitchen, marble and wood floors and a huge balcony. Walking distance to three dispensaries (Exhale, The Clinic Nevada and The Apothecary Shoppe). Access to pool, hot tub, spa, fitness center and sun deck. Restaurants on site. Room service meals available. $195 per night.
  • BudAndBreakfast.com lists five places in Las Vegas all at $150 per night.


The Best Las Vegas Dispensaries

There are more than 40 dispensaries in Las Vegas. First-timer? Don’t feel the need to visit too many. Also, resist kid-in-candy-store urges to purchase and consume everything. A little can go a long way.

Delivery Service ProTip: If you’re staying in a private residence and not in a hotel, delivery services will save you travel time and eliminate time spent waiting in lines at popular dispensaries. Place your order online or by phone before you leave home and receive your order when you check into your cannabis-friendly private lodging. Among dispensaries, Essence delivers. Blackbird is a distributor that delivers for more than a dozen dispensaries.

Reef

3400 Western Ave.

Why go: The exclusive purveyor of connoisseur-grade cannabis personally selected by Berner, a San Francisco rapper and marijuana mogul. You can pre-order for pick-up.

What to buy: Flower lovers, buy: Sundae Driver, Purple Punch, Acapulco Gold and Orange Zkilltez. Edibles: Trokies with Melatonin for sleep or CBD for new users.

ShowGrow

4850 S. Fort Apache Rd.

Why go: A deep selection for every type of cannabis modality.

What to try: The elite flowers like Mendo Cream, Tangie, WiFi OG, Key Lime Pie and Slymer. For hash lovers, Moxie Cannabiotix and Vader brands are all superb. For edibles — Mountain High Suckers. Vape pen lovers? Select Relax pens and the Moxie Watermelon cart.  

Essence

2307 S. Las Vegas Blvd.

Why go: It’s The Strip’s sole dispensary, carrying about 250 different types of products.

What to try: Potent flowers like Kosher Kush, Mendo Cream #2, Kumquat, Lemon Meringue #1, Cookies & Cream #2 and J-Lo. Baby J’s pre-rolls. For edibles — the Kalm Corn, Dixie Dew Drops and Raw Local Honey.

The Grove

4647 Swenson St.

Why go: Former Humboldt grower Kevin Biernacki oversees an eco-friendly grow that feeds a local product line of flowers, concentrates and edibles. The Grove recently hosted a cannabis-themed wedding in its cultivation room. The Grove is the nearest dispensary to McCarran International Airport — a 5-minute ride by Uber or Lyft.

What to try: The Cannabiotix Orange Cookies flower, or an O.pen CRAFT Super Blue Dream vape pen, or District edibles Tropical Punch gummies.


The Best Las Vegas Events & Attractions Pairings

Moroccan lamb tagine is served at the Bacchanal Buffet booth at Vegas Uncork'd by Bon Appetit's Grand Tasting event at Caesars Palace. | Photo: Getty

Moroccan lamb tagine is served at the Bacchanal Buffet booth at Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit’s Grand Tasting event at Caesars Palace. | Photo: Getty

ORAL FIXATIONS

Munchie challenge, accepted: The Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace is Las Vegas’ most decadent all-you-can-eat experience. This is a no-brainer.

The Most Important Meal: Ovo-centric breakfast sandwiches are the thing at the Cosmopolitan’s Egg SlutHash House A Go Go downtown at the Plaza Hotel also serves up large portions of over-the-top Americana classics with farm-forward twists.

Keep it classic: Peppermill for meals or the fireside lounge.

The Peppermill restaurant is a favorite among locals and regular tourists to the Las Vegas strip. The restaurant is known for large portions of food, and a warm bar called the Fireside Lounge where a giant firepit adorned with video screens entertains. | Photo: Getty

The Peppermill restaurant is a favorite among locals and regular tourists to the Las Vegas strip. The restaurant is known for large portions of food, and a warm bar called the Fireside Lounge where a giant firepit adorned with video screens entertains. | Photo: Getty

Clean eating: Hipscale vegan vittles at Simply Pure in the Downtown Container Park. Simply Pure serves vegan tacos, spring rolls, lasagna, nachos, raw chili cheese fries, fresh juices and more. Entrees less than $12.

Grilled Treats: Retreat from Las Vegas’ epic excess at Abriya Raku, where small, inexpensive Japanese robata dishes are cooked over a charcoal grill in a 48-seat restaurant off The Strip. Most grilled items at Abriya Raku — Kobe beef liver, Kurobuta pork cheeks, pork ear and pork intestine — are less than $5. Iberico pork, Kobe beef filet and foie gras starting at $10 and topping out at $17.

Keep It Simple: In-N-Out Burger, the California classic fetishized among burger aficionados, is now open on The Strip. In-N-Out Burger is located at The Linq Promenade, 3545 Las Vegas Blvd. S. and is open until 1:30 a.m. on Saturdays.

Donut Bar: Donut Bar! Enough said.

The Donut Bar's strawberry split donuts on display on Saturday, January 14, 2017. | Getty

The Donut Bar’s strawberry split donuts on display. | Photo: Getty

Meat Lovers: Bazaar Meat. Craftsteak.

Best Bar Bet: Velveteen Rabbit.

VISUAL STIMULATIONS

Keeping It Lit: Get up close and visual with the Neon Museum’s restored and dramatically lit vintage signs from defunct casinos, dry cleaners and other businesses of Las Vegas’ luminous past. Guided evening of the Neon Museum’s outdoor signage boneyard $22-$26 until 10 p.m. Late-night tours $24-$28.

770 N. Las Vegas Blvd.

Best Magic: Penn and Teller.

Artist Richard MacDonald's bronze sculpture "Joie de Vivre" is seen in the lobby of the Bellagio during the grand opening reception for The Art of Richard MacDonald presented by Cirque du Soleil gallery April 17, 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada. | Photo: Getty

Artist Richard MacDonald’s bronze sculpture “Joie de Vivre” is seen in the lobby of the Bellagio during the grand opening reception for The Art of Richard MacDonald presented by Cirque du Soleil gallery April 17, 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada. | Photo: Getty

High Art: Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art. Aria Fine Art Collection.

Fantastic Voyage: There’s something about cannabis that opens you up to fantastical worlds. Try out your best Arthurian accent and bring your trusty sidekicks to The Tournament of Kings.

The Las Vegas Cliche Checklist: There’s nothing wrong with these iconic Vegas scenes: The Mirage Volcano, the Fremont Street Experience, The Fountains of Bellagio.

Neon signs at night at Fremont Street.

MULTIPLE EARGASMS

View the upcoming show calendars for The Coloseum at Ceasars Palace and The Smith Center.

FULL BODY EXPERIENCES

Best Spa: The Spa at Mandarin Oriental.

Pool Partying: Enjoy refined vibes and topless sunbathing at the Venus European Pool Club, part of Caesars Palace Garden of the Gods Pool Oasis. Luxuriate at Venus Pool Club cabanas starting at $150. Floating day beds, $200. Lounge chairs $30.

The Hideout at The Golden Nugget. Rooftop infinity pool that’s 21+.

Full Tilt: Didn’t play a single game of chance or skill during your weekend in Las Vegas? Visit the Pinball Hall of Fame. The Pinball hall of Fame is a fraction the size of Las Vegas’ largest cannabis cultivation facility — 10,000 square feet vs. 165,000 square feet — but it’s a big dose of old-school fun. Peruse and play vintage and classic machines from the 1950s to the 1990s. Entry is free but machines cost 25 cents to 50 cents per play. Open until 11 p.m.

Literal Highness: Fly super-hero-style the SlotZilla Zoomline 114 feet off the ground above the Fremont Street Experience, traveling 1,700 feet from the high-rise platform into the Golden Gate casino. SlotZilla Zoomline rides are $45 per person and last approximately one minute. Open until 2 a.m Saturdays.

Go Exotic: Drive a Lamborghini, Ferrari or a Porsche via Dream Racing and Exotics Racing.

Actor/model Antonio Sabato Jr. poses with a 2015 Porsche 911 GT3, a 2013 Ferrari 458 Italia and a 2015 Lamborghini Huracan at the SpeedVegas motorsports complex on May 30, 2016 in Las Vegas. | Photo: Getty

Actor/model Antonio Sabato Jr. poses with a 2015 Porsche 911 GT3, a 2013 Ferrari 458 Italia and a 2015 Lamborghini Huracan at the SpeedVegas motorsports complex on May 30, 2016 in Las Vegas. | Photo: Getty

MENTAL STIMULATION

Keep Vegas Weird: Let your mind wander in The Harry Mohney Erotic Heritage Museum — a sex-positive exhibition space started by a preacher and an X-rated film maker.

Go Wild: Similar to fantasy, there’s something about communing with nature that pairs well with cannabis, so you might as well go feed some tigers at The Lion Habitat Ranch.


Las Vegas Cannabis Stuff To Do

Get Arty: There are no pot lounges in Las Vegas but you can smoke pot while throwing a pot at a hands-on, bring-your-own cannabis pottery class. Denver-based Puff, Pass, Paint presents a pottery version of its popular painting classes. Also available: pastry classes and magic classes. A two-hour hands-on class in a private location south of McCarran International Airport. Bring your own cannabis. Paraphernalia (rolling papers, bongs and other smoking essentials) provided. 7-9 p.m. Fridays. $39 per person.

Take A Tour: Herbology offers night, VIP, Beer & Buds, 101 Weed and Airport Pickup tours. Similarly 420 Tours Las Vegas offers Dispensary VIP, Airport, and Private tours.


Las Vegas Transportation Details

Airport Details: McCarran International Airport is serviced by JetBlue, Virgin America, Alaska, United, Delta, Spirit and Southwest airlines. McCarran now offers “cannabis amnesty” boxes where you can dump your goods before you leave Sin City.

Airport & Ground Transportation Pro Tips: Round-trip flights from Bay Area airports leaving early Friday and returning late Sunday booked via Kayak.com average $250. Unless you’re traveling with a handicapped person and absolutely need to rent a car, ride-sharing services like Lyft and Uber will cost less per day than a rental car. Uber and Lyft pickup at airport parking garages in Terminal 1 and Terminal 3. Cannabis tourists are big business for ride services, making wait times for pick up on The Strip reasonable.

Public transportation: From McCarran International Airport, Bus 108 gets you to The Grove dispensary for $2 and continues to The Strip and downtown’s Art District. The Las Vegas Monorail is a short walk away from Essence, The Strip’s only dispensary, and quickly shuttles you to and from major hotels, casinos, restaurants and attractions.

Private companies offer tours of dispensaries, helping you cut the lines, get discounts and collect swag. But don’t expect to toke up on board tour buses, as regulators fear second-hand smoke will affect drivers.

Take more mental vacays with GreenState travel stories.

 



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These 3 Marijuana Stock Picks Had The Best Week


Another volatile week on the pot stock market has investors scrambling to keep their portfolios balanced, even as a spate of positive news envelopes the industry. Still, a few companies have weathered the storm better than others, creating a sense of some stability in the market.

These three marijuana stock picks had the best week recently:

CannaRoyalty Corp.

Crying a river (of joy) is CannaRoyalty Corp. (CSE:CRZ) (OTCQX:CNNRF) who announced earlier this week a pair of acquisitions in the pot stock goldmine of California. The company, known for its diverse holdings and strategic assets closed on the previously announced acquisitions of Kaya Management Inc. and Alta Supply Inc. while also acquiring 100 percent of River Distribution and its affiliates. Consolidating River and Alta will bring CannaRoyalty’s 2017 fiscal year revenue to an impressive $31.9 million, making them a must-have weed stock pick in the current volatile market.

Betting big on the California market, the River acquisition is a distribution and marketing coup for CannaRoyalty, giving the company strong brand recognition across the state. With two licensed facilities in California (Temporary Cannabis Distribution License (Type 11 – Recreational and Temporary Cannabis Distribution License Type 11 – Medical), River alone generated $25.4 million in revenue in 2017.

Moreover, with Alta, CannaRoyalty assumes their licensed facility in Oakland for the distribution of cannabis products, while Kaya’s facility, also in Oakland, will help the company consolidate production of their popular Bhang and CR branded products. Kaya also generated healthy profits in 2017.

“We are confident that the consolidation of RVR with Alta Supply will position us as a leader in the world’s largest regulated cannabis distribution system, in California,” remarked Marc Lustig, CEO of CannaRoyalty. “Our extensive distribution network in California makes us an ideal partner for brands that are looking to grow in California at scale. And a carefully selected portfolio of manufacturing partners also make us a superior partner for dispensaries seeking one-stop access to a full spectrum of top products and brands, in an efficient and cost-effective manner.”

A perennial pot stock pick, CannaRoyalty sits at a market cap of $200 million, and a share price around $4.00 per. They are one of the few weed stocks to attack the California market with a steadfast plan and execute with grace, And this week, this marijuana stock pick had one of the best weeks ever.

Friday Night Inc.

Under the lights is Friday Night Inc. (CSE:TGIF) (FWB:1QF) the best-named company in cannabis, who announced on Thursday financial results for the second quarter. This Las Vegas weed stock showed strong results in the quarter with, with subsidiaries American Medical Association (AMA) and Infused Mfg. both posting promising increases out of Sin City. As AMA commanded a higher price on the market with an increased its focus on better quality plants, Infused ramped up its product offering to jolt up sales.

Contributing to the potential of this premier marijuana stock pick were increased interest in Canna Hemp products both in their home base of Nevada and in the new promised land of California. Furthermore, the company’s recent acquisition of Spire Secure Logistics, a top-of-the-line cannabis security and logistics agency has positioned Friday Night for huge gains, all of which this cannabis stock’s investors can expect to be passed on to their personal portfolio’s.

Some of the highlights from the second quarter for Friday Night include a 20.2 percent sales increase from $2,464,487 in Q1 to $2,962,699 and six-month total sales of $5.4 million all from U.S. operations. Each subsidiary saw increased sales, with Infused jumping up 45 percent and AMA a respectable 11 percent.

Topping off a brilliant period for the company was the recent announcement of their inclusion in the Canadian Securities Exchange’s CSE25 Index as One of the Largest Companies by Market Cap.

“We are very proud to be recognized as one of the 25 largest companies on the CSE by market capitalization,” said Brayden Sutton, Friday Night CEO and cannabis industry veteran. “The inclusion on the CSE25 Index not only distinguishes our Company as a highly liquid issuer but gives validation to our business strategy and recognizes our impressive growth over the last nine months of trading.”

Friday Night has a market cap over $140 million, and trades at $0.65 per share, making them one of this week’s top three marijuana stock picks to watch.

Turnaround Pick Of The Week

Globetrotting is Aphria Inc. (TSX:APH) (USOTC:APHQF) a company that just cannot seem to catch a break these days. The company announced this week that recently acquired Nuuvera Inc. would be renamed Aphria International Inc. and remain a wholly-owned subsidiary of the company. This new entity will focus on legalized cannabis markets in Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Malta, Australia, and Lesotho.  

The company finally posted some gains after weeks of positive news kept bringing this cannabis stock’s prices down. According to Profit Confidential, Aphria has had it harder than most recently, with share down 27 percent this year. That number includes a 37 percent drop in February.

Still, Aphria is this week’s weed stock turnaround pick. The move towards international markets should keep them at the forefront of the legal cannabis industry. Moreover, it is hard to envision them staying down for much longer, making this an excellent time for marijuana stock investors to buy in now.



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Sen. Cortez Masto Encouraging Banks To Work With Legal Marijuana Businesses


A bipartisan group of senators, including Nevada’s Catherine Cortez Masto, have urged banking industry leaders to allow banks to work with state-licensed marijuana businesses.

Cortez Masto has made it clear she does not support a federal crackdown on marijuana businesses in states where it is legal.

Cortez Masto told the Nevada Independent she met with the U.S. attorney in Nevada last month and made the case that she should refrain from cracking down on marijuana.

The Justice Department has said it gives acting U.S. attorneys in each state the discretion on how to proceed.

Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have passed laws to allow the use and sale of medical or recreational marijuana. 



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Data Projects That the Legal Cannabis Market is in Growth Mode


A recent report by Arcview Market Research indicates that consumer spending on legal cannabis in North America is outpacing previous estimates. The report projects that retail cannabis sales will grow 33% from 2016, to about $10 billion this year. The data published projects that by 2021 the legal cannabis market will reach a value of $24.5 billion and at a 28% compound annual growth rate (CAGR). Arcview also stated that according to BDS Analytics’ GreenEdge point-of-sale tracking service, the medical industry in California is already as big as the total markets in Colorado, Washington, and Oregon combined. Starting January 1st, California has started legal sales of cannabis products for recreational use. Global Payout, Inc. (OTC: GOHE), Kaya Holdings, Inc. (OTC: KAYS), Medical Marijuana, Inc. (OTC: MJNA), New Age Farm Inc. (OTC: NWGFF), GB Sciences, Inc. (OTC: GBLX)

Starting January 1st, California the nation’s most populous state has started legal sales of recreational cannabis. While sales are ramping up, there are concerns that supply will fall short of demand. According to a report by the Chicago Tribune, Charles Boldwyn, chief compliance officer of ShowGrow in Santa Ana, explained, “We’re looking at … hundreds of licensed cultivators and manufacturers coming out of an environment where we literally had thousands of people who were cultivating and manufacturing… So the red tape is a bit of a bottleneck in the supply chain.” Despite the concerns, the market in California is expected to witness strong growth. Data published by New Frontier Data projects that legal cannabis sales in California will reach $2.8 billion in 2017 and $6.6 billion by 2025.

Global Payout, Inc. (OTC: GOHE) earlier today announced breaking news that, “its subsidiary MoneyTrac Technology, Inc. (“MTRAC”, the “Company”) will be launching MTRAC, a full-service banking solution powered by GreenBox blockchain technology, on April 4th, 2018“. The official launch of this system brings the MTRAC goal of “Banking the UnbankableTM” to life and marks a massive turning point for both MTRAC and the legal cannabis industry in California.

While many states have legalized medical cannabis, and a handful have gone full blown recreational, traditional banking services remain largely unavailable to the legal cannabis industry. MTRAC, the Company’s payment solution powered by GreenBox blockchain technology, not only provides these services but also incorporates the distributed ledger technology to track and record each transaction taking place in cannabis dispensaries. This solves several of the industry’s most pressing problems, not the least of which is the ability to track sales to prevent theft. The official launch of MTRAC will present businesses in the industry with effective cashless methods to not only process payments for their consumers, but also remit payments to their vendors, employees, and other business affiliates.”

“The goal of MTRAC from the beginning has been to leverage the different technologies available to us to remove the use of cash as the primary form of payment throughout the cannabis industry. While other companies have struggled to find supportive financial solutions, MTRAC opted to take a different approach, and one that has relied heavily on the use of blockchain technology to address this problem for a massive and growing industry,” said MTRAC CEO, Vanessa Luna. “I am extremely excited to see MTRAC, our payment solution, officially launch next week. Once this happens, I am confident that every dispensary desiring legitimacy and transparency will jump on board and provide us with a number of new clients to serve.”  

Kaya Holdings, Inc. (OTCQB: KAYS) through subsidiaries, produces, distributes or sells legal premium medical and recreational cannabis products, including flower, concentrates and oils, and cannabis-infused foods. Recently, the company announced that it has received notification from the Linn Country Planning and Building Department that its application for site plan review for marijuana production, and its request for a conditional use permit for marijuana processing have been reviewed and deemed complete – a necessary milestone in the process to obtain OLCC licenses to both grow and process medical and recreational cannabis on the Company’s 26-acre plot in Lacomb, Oregon. The County has tentatively scheduled a decision on the application for April 20, 2018. The formal ‘Letter of Completeness’, sent March 9, 2018 by a Linn County Senior Planner, confirmed the eligibility of the Company’s 26-acre plot for the purposes of growing legal cannabis, as well as the eligibility for a special purpose exemption for the Company’s proposed manufacturing operations.

Medical Marijuana, Inc. (OTC: MJNA) recently announced the success of its subsidiary HempMeds® Brazil’s Cannabis Symposium in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. The event was put on in partnership with the National Association of Cannabidiol Users (ANUC) from March 19-23and was held in the cities of Canoas, Passo Fundo and Porto Alegre. There, Dr. Stuart Titus, CEO of Medical Marijuana, Inc., spoke about the benefits of cannabidiol (CBD) and also discussed upcoming potential research opportunities in Brazil. HempMeds® Brazil was the first company authorized by ANVISA to import a CBD-based product into Brazil for those suffering from various specific medical conditions.

New Age Farm Inc. (OTC: NWGFF) is an agricultural services company offering unique turnkey growing infrastructure and services for licensed growers and processors of luxury marijuana crops at its agri-campuses in Washington State. In February, the company announced that the first order of 5,000 CBD pens has arrived at We Are Kured LLC’s (“WAK”) Denver, Colorado facility.  The Company previously announced that it had placed the order for it first 5,000 state-of-the-art hemp-based vaporizer pens in a ready-to-use form. The Company has worked closely with the manufacturing and design team to ensure that the look, feel and overall experience of the pen would be both ergonomically and esthetically pleasing. WAK’s production team has begun filling each pen with 250mg of the highest quality, Terpene infused, CBD oil.  Each vape pen is infused with one of three specific terpene flavour profiles.  The three variations are Moonlight, an Indica blend infused with OG Kush Terpenes; Daylight, a Sativa blend infused with Pineapple Express Terpenes; and Allday, a Hybrid blend infused with Strawberry Diesel Terpenes.

GB Sciences, Inc. (OTCQB: GBLX) is a diverse cannabis company, focused on standardized cultivation and production methods; as well as biopharmaceutical research and development. Recently, the company announced it has signed a letter of intent to purchase 100% of the ownership interests of NevadaPURE’s Las Vegas operation for $28 million in cash and the assumption of approximately $5 million of outstanding liabilities. The purchase is contingent on the completion of due diligence within approximately 30 days, negotiation of a final purchase agreement and regulatory approval. This deal also provides GB with an additional three licenses from the state of Nevada, including a cultivation license, a production license and a dispensary license. This vertical integration will enable margins to increase significantly since a middleman between GB and its retail customers will no longer be necessary. The deal enables GB to take over a very attractive lease of a 72,000 sq. ft. building, which is currently producing 350 pounds of dried cannabis monthly, with a growing capacity that can be expanded to allow 12,000 pounds per year.

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Premium Produce spends millions on major marijuana business


LAS VEGAS – A booming marijuana industry means companies are expanding. Premium Produce is spending millions on a major expansion. 

The grower is making cannabis-infused products for both the recreational and medical markets.

“This area is our propagation area,” manager Frank Cabrera said as he gave 8 News NOW a tour. “We cut down clones. Humidity-controlled, temperature-controlled, remotely-controlled.”

Premium Produce is a 5,000 square foot production and cultivation facility.

“We’re preparing our chapstick ‘kiss meh’ line,” Priscilla Vilchis, the CEO of Premium Produce. 

“We have over seven strains in this room at this time,” Cabrerra said. 

Like man other valley marijuana businesses, Premium Produce is growing as fast as the marijuana it produces.

“The reason we’re able to expand is because it’s the new market, it’s the new billion-dollar industry,” Vilchis said.

Vilchis is bullish about the marijuana market in Nevada.

“Forbes printed that Nevada made $195 million in six months, that you can’t lie with numbers like that,” said Vilchis.  “That is why we are so eager to complete our expansion.”

When construction wraps up in about six weeks, the facility will be five times its current operating size.

One of 10 additional marijuana growing rooms being built at Premium Produce will complete the $8 million project.

Vilchis expects investments like these by marijuana businesses will quickly pay off.

“We’re going to be able to bring in so many jobs, taxes for the state of Nevada,” Vilchis said. “It’s a win-win for everyone, as well as business owners like myself.”

The most recent numbers show retailers statewide have sold nearly $230 million in recreational marijuana products since July 2017.



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Online ads from unlicensed pot shops roil California market


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Many states permit residents to grow marijuana for their personal use, and we decided to look at just how easy it is to grow cannabis — known as pot or weed — at home.
Trevor Hughes, Austin Humphries, USA TODAY NETWORK

LOS ANGELES — Weedmaps is a go-to website for people looking to find a marijuana shop. With a few clicks on a cellphone, customers can find virtually any type of cannabis product, along with the fastest route to the place selling it and ratings from other consumers to help them decide what to buy.

But legal and illegal operators advertise next to each other, and licensed operators in California say that’s put them at a disadvantage in a cutthroat marketplace.

To them, Weedmaps is helping illegal sellers flourish without having any of the obligations licensed operators endure — collecting and paying taxes, insuring their businesses and employees, and abiding by safety rules for their products.

More: 2 Nevada lawmakers call for more pot tax funds for schools

More: San Francisco embraces Amsterdam-style marijuana lounges

More: Nevada pot sales fall in January, stay ahead of projections

In other words, illegal shops can sell pot at cheaper prices, sometimes 30 percent to 50 percent less.

“That’s Weedmaps’ business model, to confuse the difference between legal and illegal,” said Jerred Kiloh, a licensed dispensary owner in Los Angeles who heads the United Cannabis Business Association, an industry group. “It’s an unfair playing field. They are pitting us against each other.”

Weedmaps operates in over two dozen states, but the issue is coming to a head in California, which in January became the nation’s largest legal marketplace. State regulators last month warned Weedmaps to stop advertising shops operating outside the law.

In a response, Weedmaps executives said they are eager to work with the state but asserted that the online directory doesn’t fall under state authority and is shielded by provisions in federal law.

The company sees the core of the problem as a scarcity of legal outlets and hefty taxes that scare off consumers from licensed shops, not its online ads. In Los Angeles, where the pace of city licensing has been sluggish, only about 130 retail shops have authority to operate, while city officials acknowledge hundreds more are making illegal sales.

More: USA Today Network’s ‘Potcast’ digs into stories of marijuana legalization

More: Lawmakers propose bill limiting marijuana odor in Vermont

Weedmaps says its experience dropping unlicensed businesses from its listings in Washington, Oregon, Nevada and Massachusetts had no impact on the size of those unlicensed markets.

“Scrubbing the internet of the reality of unlicensed operators … does nothing to fix the underlying issues,” Weedmaps CEO Doug Francis and President Chris Beals wrote to the state Bureau of Cannabis Control earlier this month.

The company some call a Craigslist for cannabis defines itself as an “interactive computer service” that falls under the federal Communications Decency Act. A key section of that law is designed to protect internet publishers, generally providing immunity to them for content posted by users.

But Kiloh is among those who argue Weedmaps is far more than an advertising platform, noting consumers can use the site to submit orders and summon deliveries from shops legal and otherwise.

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Since Nevada legalized recreational marijuana, anyone 21 and over can possess up to 1 ounce in-state. How many people actually could look at an ounce and identify it, though? We’re here to help educate you.
Jenny Kane/RGJ

“They are acting like Amazon, saying, ‘Here is a shopping cart,'” Kiloh said. “They are creating a marketplace, not a platform for advertising, and it’s driven by dollars.”

The dispute over the online ads goes to basic economics for an emerging market sprung from what was mostly an illegal one: Lawful operators will struggle if they’re competing with a robust black market that can undersell them.

Complaints have surfaced elsewhere, including over fees that in some cases can be tens of thousands of dollars a month for prime ad space. The company says some advertisers pay nothing.

“I strongly believe their response to advertise for unlicensed cannabis companies is a black eye to the industry,” said Peter Marcus, a spokesman for Denver-based Terrapin Care Station.

Terrapin has three licensed dispensaries in Colorado and has advertised with Weedmaps for years, Marcus said. He said Terrapin worries Weedmaps’ high-profile spat with California regulators will bring unwanted attention from the U.S Justice Department, which continues to prosecute marijuana offenses under federal law that still sees cannabis as an illegal drug.

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Wochit

The appeal of black-market shops — and the lure of their ads — was illustrated thismonth after a raid at an illegal dispensary near Los Angeles.

Even after Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies shuttered the Compton 20 Cap Collective, hauling out employees and customers in handcuffs and seizing bags of illicit pot, the shop’s page on Weedmaps advertised deals and displayed the dispensary’s products, which included dozens of varieties of cannabis buds, extracts and edibles.

Despite the bust, prospective customers were asking about making purchases.

“Are they back open again?” one comment read.

In its warning to Weedmaps, one of hundreds of letters sent to businesses that California regulators believe are operating improperly, the state said the company should take down ads from illicit operators and warned the company it could face criminal penalties.

But it wasn’t immediately clear how far that threat would go, since Weedmaps appears to be operating largely as usual. In their letter, the company executives said they would eliminate an internal “identifier” that appeared in business listings that state regulators said could be confused with a valid license number.

The company said in a statement it wants the licensed market to reach a “functional state where the unlicensed market is minimized.”

California regulators are discussing appropriate next steps, state cannabis agency spokesman Alex Traverso said in an email.

In the Legislature, Democratic Assemblyman Jim Cooper of Elk Grove drafted a bill that would penalize unlicensed operators that advertise on the internet, $10,000 for every violation.

“The black market is having a substantial impact on those businesses that are following the rules,” said Mike Ziegler, a Cooper aide. “They are being undercut by those who choose to operate illegally.”

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Associated Press writers Paul Elias in San Francisco and Michael Balsamo in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

 

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What happens in local municipalities if recreational marijuana is legalized? – News – Holland Sentinel


Local municipalities won’t have much control over the use of marijuana if it appears on the ballot and passes this November.

Some areas have publicly opposed the use of recreational marijuana through a resolution written by Lakeshore Regional Entity. This is ahead of the measure being placed on the November ballot if petitioners have gathered enough valid signatures.

Al Dannenberg, an Ottawa County commissioner, has brought the resolution to Zeeland, Zeeland Township and is planning on bringing to to Holland Township for a vote, and says more municipalities are planned by other officials.

“If we wait until it’s on the ballot, we’re sometimes running defense instead of offense,” he said.

So far, both Zeeland and Zeeland Township have voted to adopt the resolution, which is meant to “encourage others to oppose the recreational use of marijuana for general use, including the adoption of similar resolutions in opposition of the general use of legalization of non-medical marijuana.”

The resolution cites negative effects on youth, increases in car crashes related to people being under the influence and other statistics.

But if it’s on the ballot and approved by voters, local control would be minimal. A resolution only provides a formal stance on an issue by a government.

“If it passes, it passes,” Dannenberg said. “We’re trying to educate people as we’re going along.

“We’re not telling somebody how to vote, but what we would really like everybody to do is ask questions. Look at the facts and see if then you want to vote for it.”

The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol has turned in about 365,000 signatures to the state in hopes of getting its legislation on the November ballot. The proposal is awaiting signature review; there is a 252,523 signature requirement for it to be on the ballot.

If voted in, it would legalize the recreational use and possession of marijuana for people 21 years or older, and enact a tax on sales. This is currently illegal in Michigan. The use of medical marijuana was approved in 2008 by voters; both practices are illegal under federal law.

Individuals would be permitted to grow up to 12 marijuana plants in their homes. The measure would create an excise sales tax of 10 percent, which would be levied on marijuana sales at retailers. Revenue would be allocated from the taxes to local governments, K-12 education and the repair and maintenance of roads and bridges.

Proponents say that prohibiting marijuana has been a “failure,” and is wasteful of law enforcement resources. This was echoed by Nick Zettell, board member of MILegalize, a statewide grassroots organization to end marijuana prohibition.

Zettell said his organization believes allowing recreational use would be a “huge boom” to the economy by creating jobs, reduce the tax burden and bring in revenue for schools and roads in local communities.

According to Zettell, local governments would be able to opt out of the licensing growing, processing or retail facilities, but the municipalities that opt in would get more from tax revenue.

In the last few years, voters have legalized recreational use in eight states: Colorado, California, Alaska, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.

If passed, establishments would be prohibited from being located in an area zoned only for residential use, or within 1,000 feet of a school unless a local government adopts an ordinance reducing the distance requirement.

Beyond that, local control is minimal.

That’s why Lakeshore Regional Entity first proposed the opposing resolution that’s circulating local municipalities and agencies in multiple counties. The organization serves seven counties, most of which have passed the resolution. Ottawa County approved it unanimously in May.

Stephanie VanDerKooi, substance use disorder director of Lakeshore Regional Entity, said the reasoning of detrimental impacts of recreational use. She said it’s not safe for people operating machinery, and if someone is caught under the influence, this could be an issue for companies that have to answer to federal agencies, like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

VanDerKooi said her organization also believes it will increase the amount of people that abuse the drug.

With other marijuana laws, like allowing medical marijuana facilities, municipalities have the power to choose, and a number of local ones have adopted policies banning those types of facilities, like in Holland, Zeeland Township, Holland Township, Zeeland and Saugatuck. In Saugatuck Township, this regulation doesn’t exist; whether to regulate in any way is currently being discussed at the planning commission level.

While there are lots of varying opinions on the possible legalization, Zettell is confident it will appear on the ballot and be approved by Michigan voters, leaving local municipalities to follow state law.

“We just need to make sure we’re doing everything we can to help spread awareness about our proposal, and to make sure voters have a chance to voice their opinion by voting for legalization,” he said.

— Follow this reporter on Twitter @SentinelSydney.



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